Visiting Istanbul, Turkey.....the bridge to Europe
On April 15th, now known as valcano day, I had the oppertunity to fly to Turkey for my annual ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) conference in Istanbul.
But first, I flew into the spiritual moon scape mountains of Cappidocia. I went to a lecture on Turkish hand-made rugs, known for their two-knot style. Seeing the local women work their looms with virgin silk and colors, is simply beautiful. I also went to the Underground City while collegues went hot air ballooning. While visiting this area, you can actually stay in a hotel made right in the rock. One I recommend is Cave Rock Hotel and Spa, with beautiful views of the valley and first class service.
From here, I flew to Istanbul for my conference and sightseeing of this beautiful and historic city. Currently with a population of over 12 million people and an average age of 29 years old, Istanbul flows wonderfully like the Bosphorus river that runs through it. There are all kinds of three to five star hotels and I found the city to be very safe.
The currency is still the Turkish Lire so your money goes further. Especially when you have shopping in the Grand Bazar and Spice Markets. I also attended a Turkish cullinary school and learned the local preperation of the wonderful foods and flavors. All in all, Turkey is a country that needs to be on your things to do list. I'm very happy to have had the oppertunity and if you contact me, I'm happy to share my experiences with you further.
Sailing through the Panama Canal on the Crystal Serenity
As this is my first blog for Santa Cruz Travel, its most appropriate I write of my exciting day transiting the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean to the Carribean Sea.
I boarded the Cryatal Serenity cruise ship in Caldera, Costa Rica and spent a day at sea. The weather on the Pacific was a balmy 85 degrees and arriving at the entrance to the canal with shorts and a tee shirt at 6:30am. With Panama City off my starboard verandah, we proceeded to follow a military ship through the locks.
It took the better part of the morning to get through the first set of locks, with a small toll to the Panamanian authorities of $320,000 for a ship our size. "Mules" as they are called, guided and pulled us up and over the first elevations. Once in the canal we wound our way for the next several hours up river passing many cargo ships heading for the Pacific. At about 3pm, we arrived the final set of locks and proceeded down to Colon and the Caribbean Sea.
I cannot even start tell you what a marvel this process is and what the Panama Canal took to build back in the late 1800's. I can only suggest you have this life time oppertunity as I have.
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